Glaucoma is a disease of the eye where by increased pressure in the eyeball results in damage to optic nerve (the main nerve of the eye) and gradual visual loss. It is a leading cause of blindness in the world today with over 80,000 people that go blind from glaucoma every year in the US alone. In the African-American and Caribbean communities, glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. Risk increases with age. Other risk factors include family history of glaucoma, high myopia (nearsightedness), diabetes, hyperopia (farsightedness) and history of eye trauma.
Visual loss from glaucoma is gradual and without symptoms such as pain. It usually starts from the peripheral visual fields moving centrally. By the time a person starts to notice a problem, having lost central reading vision, substantial permanent peripheral vision loss may already have occurred. This is why it is important for people 40 years old and above get a baseline screening for glaucoma regardless of whether they are having visual problems.
Once the condition is identified, glaucoma is usually treated with eye drops or early cataract surgery and microinvasive glaucoma surgery to lower the intraocular pressure. Sometimes more advanced laser surgery or traditional scalpel blade surgery is required to treat or stabilize glaucoma. If you are over 40, have other risk factors, or any visual loss, get screened for glaucoma so that you can avoid this common form of blindness.